Basil is serious business in Thai cooking, so much that there are three different cultivars used in distinct dishes. This Stir-Fried Chicken with Holy Basil from Bangkok Street Food by Tom Vandenberghe and Eva Verplaetse calls for bai krapao (holy basil), a favorite for stir-frying. Holy basil is heartier with a peppery nose that can stand up to the big flavors like the chiles, garlic, and fish sauce in this dish.
And aside from being spicy and fresh in a way that's borderline addictive, this stir-fry is a great way to break into the world of Thai cooking. It's really just a matter of stocking up on the basic pantry ingredients, getting comfortable with with high-heat stir-frying, and discovering the magical powers of fish sauce.
Reprinted with permission from Bangkok Street Food by Tom Vandenberghe and Eva Verplaetse. Copyright © 2010. Published by Lannoo. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 8 ounces chicken breast, boned and chopped in small pieces
- 2 big red chiles, chopped finely
- 2 handfuls of holy basil (bai krapao)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons water or chicken stock
Heat the wok on a medium heat. Add oil and garlic, stir-fry for
a few seconds. Turn on the heat and add the chicken. Add chilli
and half of the basil. Stir-fry for 1 minute, add fish sauce, sugar and
water or stock. Turn down the heat on low. Add the rest of the basil,
stir-fry for a few seconds and serve on rice.